The University provides its students with the resources needed to thrive during their time working on a degree and after graduation. Every student is well aware of the renovated UREC, the campus eateries, and — how could anyone forget — the graphemic lazy river. However, students often forget about one of the biggest and most useful resources on campus — Troy H. Middleton Library.
Without a doubt, students know about the library. There’s a daily influx, around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., of zombified and cranky individuals ready to cure their caffeine withdrawals with a “super-grande mochasippi, add an extra shot.” And, on the third and fourth floors, there are always students, some studying, some sitting at the window desks, staring listlessly at trees in the Quad while passersby whisper obscenities about the waste of a power outlet. Sure, students use the library every day, but the majority of students never see it as more than a quiet place to study, or somewhere with computer access and printers.
Together with the Hill Memorial Library, Middleton boasts access to more than four million texts, not including access to the online databases. There’s been many times where a classmate approached me for help when they haven’t bought the books for class and a paper deadline is looming. Pointing them to the library is much simpler than the awkward Seinfeldian scenario, which could ensue from lending out my copies of the class readings.
Most majors eventually require students to do research in some form or another, so every student should be at least superficially familiar with the online library databases. Yet, despite the relative ease of access, students continually neglect these resources outside of the most utilitarian need for research material.
A case study performed at the University of Wollongong Library by Manager of Quality and Marketing Brian Cox and University Librarian Margie Jantti found that there was a direct correlation between database usage and student grades. This could simply mean that those students who are making better grades also tend to use the library more often, but it could also mean that library usage creates better students. It’s not clear what’s exactly causing the better grades, but at the very least, it’s been proven that using the library is beneficial.
Perhaps the staggered library use among University students is indicative of the larger decline in America. In a 2015 study performed by the Pew Research Center, only 44 percent of Americans reported visiting a library or bookmobile, while 31% claimed they used the library website. In 2016, Pew found that these numbers continued the downward trend. Although Pew attributed the decline to a change in the technological landscape, the Institute of Museum and Library Service found a correlation between library funding and public use. An updated library could mean increased student traffic.
In 2017, the University announced that library renovations were projected for completion by 2020. In 2019, it doesn’t seem that renovations will be complete on Middleton anytime soon, but if it’s possible that a better library means better grades, then these renovations can’t come soon enough.
Michael Frank is a 23-year-old political science and English senior from New Orleans, Louisiana.